To drink or not to drink? Not to drink, said Cancer Research, challenging its supporters to join a good cause to become a Dryathlete for a month and 35,000 Britons have risen to the occasion.
It's a worthy proposal and from a European perspective there is probably nothing extraordinary (with the healthy lifestyle and all). But what about Russians? Yes, the Russians. The ones with bear and vodka and matryoshka and more vodka and drinking as part of the heritage.
The year was 2013 and it was time to find out whether the finest Russian representatives of the London crowd could live up to the challenge and stay dry for the whole of the month of January. More about their extraordinary achievements in the January Dryathletism, accompanied by the Soviet anti-drinking posters, used by the Dryathletes in their Facebook campaigns.
(Soviet imagery "No!", source: internet)
Fellow Russians have acknowledged their efforts and have donated generously to show support and raise money for charity. And as their results show, this was an eye opening exercise on getting hold of saturday mornings, appreciating one pint rather than five and most importantly helping fund essential research.
Very well done to the athletes and a big thank you to Cancer Research for such a good fundraising challenge.
Maria Zherebtsova reports from the fast lane of investment banking
Initially I took up the challenge as a show of support to a friend who was doing it, but this was also an excuse to fight the usual peer pressure of the UK drinking culture. This was my chance to credibly say "no thank you" every Friday night and re-focus on well-being.
(Soviet imagery "Sport/Alcohol. 'o' bring power, 'i' means death", source: internet)
I set a target of £300, and so far managed to raise £370. In terms of overall targets I was using this as a springboard to healthier and more balanced routine. I used social media and networking to fundraise, though judging by the looks on my colleagues faces it was pestering at times, as I would send a weekly Monday update on the progress. Just generally talking about the cause and the challenge. Interesting that a lot of people really thought it incredibly hard.
How does it feel? AMAZING! I have much more energy and I feel like I have won back my Saturday and Sunday mornings. Try it, really!
Natalya Pokotylyuk from the front lines of Law
Someone I know is battling cancer and I try to raise money for Cancer Research every year. I think the right amount of funding and support can help the scientists to eliminate this disease. On a personal level I wanted to detox and get healthier this year. Previously, I raised money by doing the Race for Life but I am a terrible runner and I found the Dryathlone a much easier challenge to complete.
My target was £150 and I raised £190. 10 days ago I was still off my target and donations were slow to come. I have therefore pledged that if I hit my target of £150 by the end of January I will stay dry all February too, including my big 30th birthday party. Within two days of this announcement via email and Facebook I smashed my target.
(Soviet imagery "We will end binge drinking forever", source: internet)
I actually stopped on 31 of December and had a dry New Years Eve, a first one in years. I also had a dry birthday on 23rd of January, probably a first in my adult life. Saying no at social functions for work was difficult the first few times. Some people have tried to corrupt me of course, but I stayed strong for the good cause. What made it easier for me is that I had no choice of whether to drink or not, I just knew I could not because I could not imagine letting down the people that sponsored me. Alcohol consumption is actually linked to cancer so it felt pretty good to stay off it for such a relevant cause. One thing I certainly did not miss is the hangovers! Since I reached my target I now have another month of being dry and hopefully will raise more money. Who knows, I may get used to this healthier lifestyle for good!
Roman Zouev - a Trader's perspective
I noticed the ad to sign up in GQ while on Eurostar going to Belgium. Decided that it would be a great excuse not to drink and at the same time raising money for such a great cause!
The target was not to drink for a month and I have set a high £1,000 goal. This meant consuming a lot of tomato juices in pubs (as I wanted to socialise with friends so had to visit the pubs). I decided that I will only promote my Dryathlon through Facebook (I didn't want to send direct emails to friends) and see how far this can take me to my target.
(Soviet imagery "Whe your hand reaches to the glass, take it away. Vodka is poison", source: internet)
It feels awesome! I have much more energy, feel more rested, and have not had a single hangover all month! I also think people don't do enough charity, so these type of personal sacrifices like Dryathlon, coupled with social media like Facebook, allow one to raise money through friends who are happy to donate, but probably would not have otherwise if they didn't see a close friend promoting a worthy cause.
Sergey Kudryashov - confession of the Architect
This challenge has been a great way to test what everything looks like when you are the only sober person in the room. The target was to not drink alcohol and I achieved it by drinking other stuff! I've learnt that this makes you appreciate 1 pint more the 5.
Well done to the athletes. Top marks.
Follow Katerina Zherebtsova on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@KatiaCavallo